Tuesday, July 28, 2015

iPad Research

Hi friends! Jessica from Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten here for this weeks tech tip. I wanted to share my favorite tricks for using iPads as a tool for student research.  (Some of these tips can be used without iPads in the classroom on a desktop computer, laptops, or other tablet)

Before I decided to stay at home with my baby girl, my school district was moving towards a more inquiry based approach to teaching content.  We often had students engaged in different projects requiring them to investigate and find information on their own.  Yes, even in Kindergarten! It can be kind of scary to send kids off to conduct research not knowing what they may encounter, especially on the internet. So here are some things that have helped me make the most of research while teaching students independence and embracing their curiosity.

1. Conducting a Web Search
  • Teach students to type their question into a search engine
  • Have students add "for kids" afterwards 
  • This will bring more relevant results and be less likely to lead them to inappropriate content
2. Image Search
  • Students can learn a lot from pictures!
  • Allow students to do an image search (if it is appropriate for their question)
  • Use Google Images and be sure students use "for kids" again to filter content
  • Alternatively you could have students search their topic on a stock photo site such as Shutterstock or Dollar Photo Club (even without a subscription you will be able to see image results)
3. Use the iPad Dictation Tool
  • This will make searching the web so much easier and faster for young students with limited typing and spelling abilities!
  • Students simply click the search bar in Safari, then tap the microphone button and ask their question. (e.g. How do bees make honey? How many different kinds of penguins are there? What machines do apple harvesters use?) 
  • Poof! Results just like that!
4. Use the iPad Text to Speech Option
  • Turn on the text to speech option so that students can have web pages and other text read to them.
  • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech Selection
  • Slide it to "on" then choose the speed you'd like the text read
  • You can also turn "Highlight" on so that the text will be highlighted as it is read aloud
  • Teach students how to highlight a word, sentence, paragraph or entire page of text.  When you have the text highlighted you will now have the "Speak" option along with the other options such as copy and define.
  • The voice is a bit robotic, but you no longer have to answer "what is this word?" 127 times during research time (total game changer in a kindergarten class full of emergent readers!)
5. Other Websites/Apps that may be helpful
  • Brain Pop Jr.
  • NSF Science 360
  • Science Kids
  • Watch Know Learn
  • iTube List (This is a FREE App that you can use to search You Tube playlists of videos regarding a topic. I usually find a set of videos and load it for the group to view so that I know the content is appropriate.  They cannot click to other You Tube videos and there are no advertisements. You can set up parent controls so they cannot even search without your code.
6. Use QR Codes
  • Download a FREE QR Code reader
  • Create QR Code links to content specific for your topics of study
  • QR codes can be generated for free on many different websites.  Here is the one that I like for it's simplicity: https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/
For more help with creating and using QR Codes you can check out my post here:
Happy researching!


  1. Such wonderful tips, Jessica!! I work with K-5 teachers and so many of the primary teachers just don't think "techie" research is possible but it totally can be done! I'm definitely going to share this post on my FB page :) Thanks for sharing!
    The Techie Teacher

  2. Thanks so much Julie! It is more difficult with littles, but they can be trained with some effort and they always amaze me!